Even with the genre showing that it is still alive and kicking with the recent return of two industry names, Chris Roberts (Star Citizen) and David Braben (Elite: Dangerous), it is especially exciting to see new, indie blood enter the space-sim scene.
Limit Theory is the newest space sim to launch a Kickstarter and, though it launches amid a wave of similar games, it has really caught my eye. Having been in development for only three months so far, the footage and screenshots that sole developer Josh Parnell is showing off on Kickstarter are already gorgeous. I don’t know if Mr. Parnell knew when he began this project just how much of a sucker I am for both open exploration in procedural worlds and spaceflight, but I feel like this game is fueled by my fever dreams.
A sandbox RPG/RTS in a procedurally-generated universe filled with procedurally-generated planets and traversed by procedurally-generated ships all fighting and trading across infinity. Limit Theory promises a lot, but also has substance to show and definite passion to drive it into the future. Go check out the project’s webpage for more information, and be sure to drop any questions in the Kickstarter’s comments section, where Mr. Parnell seems quite active in responding to the community.
After six years in development, and on the ten-year anniversary of the original Half-Life mod, Unknown World Entertainment’s Natural Selection 2 has finally been released into the wild.
Natural Selection 2 combines the multiplayer FPS and RTS genres in a showdown of the alien Kharaa vs the Frontiersman marines. Although the gameplay of the two sides differs in units, weapons, and attacks, each is commanded by a single player who views the game from a bird’s-eye perspective while their teammates duke it out on the ground in gun-and-tooth combat. Securing and holding resource nodes, researching (or evolving – in the case of the Kharaa) more powerful upgrades and units, and working as an organized team are key to winning in NS2, and it will be interesting to see what sort of strategies emerge and shift over time.
Speaking of shifting gameplay, NS2 also boasts an impressive suite of mod support, and players have already created new content ranging from new maps to entirely different gameplay modes. This active community element, in combination with steady support, feedback, and events from the development team over at Unknown Worlds, ensures that Natural Selection 2 will continue to evolve well into the future.
I’ll be honest, part of me was expecting that we’d all be brains in jars before Cortex Command reached 1.0. But no! After almost a dozen years in development, Dan Tabar’s opus has hit that milestone and is now available on Steam. Players who have already purchased the game, either directly or through a Humble Indie Bundle can get a Steam key here. A Linux build is still in development, according to Dan’s announcement post.
The release marks the completion of the game’s campaign mode or “meta game”, which allows players and CPUs to engage in large-scale warfare, building bunkers and attacking one another across the face of a planet. To find out more about this new mode, check out Dan’s latest playtest video below. And if you’re new to Cortex Command, this is also a good way to see the game’s impressive physics and AI in action.
Congratulations to Dan and the rest of the team on the release!
A Nation of Wind is an action sim where the goal is to control obelisks in levels composed of floating islands. To control an obelisk, it has to be surrounded by four temples, which are expensive in resources – you’ll have to start by building an infrastructure that includes farms, saw mills, and mines. Enemies will attack your colonies by land and air, however, so you’ll also need walls and turrets to defend. Direct attack is possible with your airship, too, using a variety of weapons that are fired with the mouse.
In a system that evokes god games like Populous, temples enable four elemental magics, each with a major and minor spell associated with them. Earth magic, for example, allows you to create new land masses or level mountains. Fire lets you dry up lakes or attack the enemy with devastating meteors. There are also spells to speed up time or heal your units.
The game’s website touts it as a cross between “arena shooters” and “real time strategy games”, but the action is fairly tame compared to Geometry Wars or Starcraft. Instead, it should appeal much more to a fan of Populous or the simulation portion of Actraiser. If that’s you, I recommend a look, as among management sims I think it may rank fairly highly. Just be prepared to spend some time getting to grips with how everything works – this game could really use some mouse-over help or at least a better tutorial.
TIGdb: Entry for A Nation of Wind
StarForge is an ambitious 3d action game that’s currently in development. According to the game’s wiki, it’s inspired by “Halo, Warcraft 3, Borderlands, Terraria, and Minecraft”, and features a number of modes that let players build bases and wage war across randomly-generated alien worlds. Player movement is entirely physics-based and body parts react (somewhat) realistically to every impact.
The first public alpha was released earlier this month and is free-to-play, although you can purchase “Hatch Points” to spend on player models and other assets to use within the game. The developers have warned that this alpha is unoptimized, may have performance issues, and does not include every feature shown in the trailer.
Punch the possum for a fan-made video which explores the alpha in more depth:
Starfarer is a promising real-time tactics RPG that’s currently in development. The latest pre-order build, 0.5a, was released today, bringing the game one step closer to the open-world space opera that its developers have planned. Previous iterations of Starfarer have let you choose from a number of scripted missions, but in 0.5a you can finally tackle a basic campaign map that lets you expand your fleet (through purchase or capture) and level up your crew. No matter how large your fleet is, though, you’ll always control a single character and ship, directing your allies through a detailed tactical map.
The game already offers quite a bit in the way of customization to your fleet, from types of ships (large capital ships to tiny fighters) to weapons and armor, down to even the personality and experience of the crew. The final release, though, sounds like it will be a dream for fans of space combat and trading games like Escape Velocity Nova – whether you want to be an ace pilot, the admiral of a large fleet, or something in-between, there will be plenty of ways to make your (permanent, meaningful) mark on the galaxy. On top of that, Starfarer’s devs seem committed to making the game friendly for modders, with fans already creating their own ships and missions.
The final price of the game is set at $20, but you can pre-order it right now for $10 and receive the current build as well as all future updates.
The long-in-development indie FPS/RTS title Natural Selection 2 has reached an important milestone: The gorilla-like evolution for the alien team, the Onos, and the marines’ jetpack accessory (both of which were important facets of the original Half-Life mod that NS2 is the sequel to) are now in the game. These additions, along with a brand new map, “Mineshaft,” are just some of the over 100 new features, balances, and tweaks for this build, which is now available to all pre-order customers.
Check out the fantastic new trailer that shows just how far this project has come:
Before Warcraft and before Dune 2, there was Technosoft’s Herzog Zwei (1989), a Genesis/Mega Drive game that laid the groundwork for real-time strategy games. Whereas the majority of RTS games that followed put you above the action, Herzog Zwei had you controlling a mech directly. This commander unit could fight, issue orders, and transport units.
Cut to today: Carbon Games is working on AirMech, an RTS game that is a more direct successor to Zwei. The small team comprises the core members of the now-defunct Titan Studios that developed Fat Princess for PS3.
No Fun Games’ one-button RTS, Pax Britannica, has been ported to Android. This port supports 2-player battles on the same device, or against an AI player if you’re by yourself. Like it’s computer (Win/Mac/Linux) counterpart, Pax Britannica for Android sports beautiful pixel graphics and easy-to-learn gameplay, as well as a price tag of ‘free.’
The feeling of relief I had as I destroyed a particularly well-defended hive quickly evaporated when the aliens counterattacked me to the north. They had evolved a unit that could lay “mimic eggs” – the eggs exploded when your marines got close and released dangerous clones. With the help of this monster, the two flamethrowers I had on defense were getting overrun and I gave up two bases to pull back. I honestly thought it was a lost cause at that point, but carefully leap-frogging turrets turned out to be the perfect antidote to this new type of enemy, since they could fire on the eggs without triggering them. End result? A perilous victory that took the lives of 60-odd marines but also brought an end to nearly a hundred thousand horrifying xenos.
That battle was the hardest I’ve fought so far in Alex Vostrov’s Infested Planet, a spiritual sequel to his real-time strategy game Attack of the Paper Zombies. The highlight of IP, of course, is the alien enemy, which moves slowly but in large numbers, and adapts to you with a new upgrade each time you take over one of its hives. Build points that are gained after each capture can be spent on training marines and building turrets. Everything can be sold back at cost, so the key to success is to adapt with the aliens and maintain a nice containment on them as they grow more and more powerful. It ends up feeling a bit like a Tower Defense game, albeit one where you can actually counterattack and win.
Infested Planet was released yesterday as a public beta at $15, a 25% discount (35% if you enter the code “STARBEAR”). It’s a great game, and well-worth checking out. If you’re still unsure, read one of Alex Vostrov’s own battle reports, which lays out a Master-level engagement. It includes lots of nice screenshots to show off the vibrant visual design (courtesy of Mike & Greg‘s Greg Wohlwend).